Priceless Gem: Roy on Dean Smith

CHAPEL HILL–Carolina basketball legend Dean Smith will deservedly be receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom Nov. 20. And UNC head basketball coach Roy Williams recently talked with WNCN about his mentor, the man who has inspired him more than any other, and his health.

Coach Williams gave an update on Smith’s ongoing battle with dementia, saying Coach is definitely struggling, but that he still has his bright moments. And Coach Williams says he has seen the crippling disease strike his family as well.

“Coach is struggling. There is no question about that. He’ll still have some good moments, but it’s a very cruel disease. My sister got it at 50 and she was dead at 60, so I’ve been through it myself,” Coach Williams says.

Tragically, Coach Williams says it is hit or miss whether Smith recognizes him, and this speaks to the cruel nature of progressive dementia.

“It depends. Sometimes he does, and sometimes he doesn’t [recognize me]. It’s just the memory loss, and the things that you have are cruel,” Coach Williams says.

Back in his prime, Smith was renowned for his remarkable memory. Coach Williams recalls some of those strokes of genius.

“You’re talking about the guy who had the best memory of anyone I’ve known in my entire life. He could see a guy in the airport and five years later, the guy could say I remember meeting you in the airport, and Coach said yeah, you were going to St. Louis, and I was going to New York,” Coach Williams says.

It is still unknown whether Coach Smith will be making the trip up to the White House to accept the Medal of Freedom in person on Nov. 20.


P.J. Hairston Says He’ll Play

CHAPEL HILL – UNC’s P.J. Hairston is making his own statements now.

The rising junior basketball standout told The Daily Tar Heel that he had finished his homework and was bored. So what did he do? He sent out a tweet that he’d be playing on the courts and stepped outside.

Despite being suspended indefinitely by Head Coach Roy Williams on Aug. 18 following a reckless driving charge, Hairston told The Daily Tar Heel not to worry because he will be playing for the Tar Heels this season.

“Yeah, I’ll be on the court,” Hairston said. “I’m not sure how long I’ll have to sit out. I haven’t found out yet, but whatever it is I’m ready for it.”

However, UNC team spokesman Steve Kirschner didn’t back P.J. up. He says there is no update on Hairston’s status for the upcoming season.

Kobe Bryant Reveals Tar Heel Leanings

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LOS ANGELES – Sorry, Dookies. It looks like NBA legend Kobe Bryant is a Tar Heel after all.

It was widely believed that, had Bryant chosen to play college ball instead of leaping from high school straight into the NBA, that he would have made the trip down to Durham rather than Chapel Hill.

But in a pleasant surprise, Bryant said in a conversation with talk show host Jimmy Kimmel that he would have been donning Carolina Blue in his college years.

Although he says he has a close relationship with Duke Coach and US basketball head coach, Mike Krzyzewski, he admits that he was leaning towards playing for recently-named Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Dean Smith.

In fact, Bryant says he cherishes the recruitment letter he received from Carolina’s priceless gem, Smith, all those years ago, and he has it tucked away as a special memento.

Heels To Be Featured In Three ‘Big Mondays’

CHAPEL HILL– The UNC men’s basketball team will be getting plenty of national attention this coming season.

On Wednesday, ESPN announced its “Big Monday” TV lineup and the Tar Heels will be showcased in three of those games.

Carolina will play on January 20 in the Dean Dome against the Virginia Cavaliers, February 17 at the Florida State Seminoles, and March 3 back in Chapel Hill against the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.

The contest against the Irish will be one of the season’s highlights as it will mark the first time the squads have played since the 2008 Maui Invitational championship game.


The complete Big Monday lineup includes:

Jan. 13 – Virginia at Duke

Jan. 20 – North Carolina at Virginia

Jan. 27 ­- Duke at Pittsburgh

Feb. 3 – Notre Dame at Syracuse

Feb. 10 – Maryland at Virginia

Feb. 17 – North Carolina at FloridaState

Feb. 24 – Syracuse at Maryland

March 3 – Notre Dame at North Carolina

Hairston Charges Dropped, Punishment Still To Come

CHAPEL HILL  – Your local basketball team caught a break late last week, but it’s not out of the woods yet.

According to multiple media reports, the Durham County marijuana possession and driving without a license charges against rising junior star P.J. Hairston have been dropped.

Friday, the charges were dropped because Hairston reportedly received and completed a drug assessment. Upon completion, the state decided not to go further with the charges. Hairston also reportedly presented his current license in order to have the other charge dropped.

A statement last week by Head Coach Roy Williams said that punishment was unclear but that he and Hairston had discussions in which the player “knows he has made serious mistakes and there will be serious consequences as a result.”

Senior Associate Athletic Director for Communications, Steve Kirschner says Roy Williams and UNC Athletics do not currently have a timeline for commenting further on the situation.